Menopause presents unique challenges for women that have diabetes. The hormones progesterone and estrogen will impact how the cells of your body respond to insulin. After you go through menopause, hormone level changes can result in blood sugar level fluctuation. For people with diabetes, this may result in blood sugar levels that are unpredictable and difficult to control.
Menopause can make it harder to control your diabetes, but there are several things that women can do to better manage the condition. A healthy lifestyle involving regular exercise and a diet rich in healthy foods is a necessity in a diabetes treatment plan. Women should also check their blood sugar frequently, keeping track of symptoms and readings.
Medical treatment can also help women to better regulate both their menopause and diabetes. If your blood sugar levels have increased, you may need to alter your diabetes medication dosage or try a new one. Your risk of cardiovascular disease will also be higher when you are dealing with both menopause and diabetes, so your doctor may also consider putting you on a medication that will help to lower your cholesterol.
Hormone levels are important in preventing the body from experiencing hypoglycemia, which is a condition that occurs when blood glucose or sugar levels are too low. Levels usually fall to less than 70 mg/dl, and symptoms of hypoglycemia include shakiness, nervousness, anxiety, irritability, confusion, rapid heartbeat, dizziness, or nausea. While a lack of blood sugar can cause hypoglycemia, a lack of certain hormones like epinephrine, cortisol, and insulin may be the reason that your blood sugar levels decreased to begin with.
Non-diabetic hypoglycemia can also be experienced by people who don’t have diabetes. There are two types of non-diabetic hypoglycemia, and both have different causes:
Reactive hypoglycemia: Possible causes include stomach surgery, having pre-diabetes, and having an enzyme deficiency that makes it difficult for the body to break food down.
Fasting hypoglycemia: Possible causes include medications like sulfa drugs and salicylates or low levels of certain hormones, including glucagon, growth hormone, epinephrine, and cortisol.
Hypopituitarism can also result in low blood sugar. This rare disorder occurs when the pituitary gland fails to produce adequate levels of important hormones. Most specifically, hypopituitarism generally results in deficiencies with the anterior pituitary hormones, including the luteinizing hormone (LH0, growth hormone, and follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH).
Just as hormones play a role in hypoglycemia, hormones can also influence or cause hyperglycemia, which is defined as high blood sugar. During digestion after a meal, your body will break the carbohydrates from food down into sugar molecules, and the hormone insulin helps the glucose sugar molecules to be absorbed into the blood. When there isn’t enough insulin or a person’s body isn’t able to use insulin properly, blood sugar levels could rise to dangerous levels.
Stress and illness can also trigger hyperglycemia because the hormones used to combat these issues can cause the blood sugar to rise. Even people who haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes may experience hyperglycemia during times of extreme illness.
It is important to treat hyperglycemia immediately, because if it is left untreated, the condition may lead to serious complications such as diabetic coma. Long-term and persistent hyperglycemia can also lead to complications affecting the heart, nerves, kidneys, and eyes, making it essential for people who are living with diabetes to ensure that both their glucose and hormone levels are properly regulated.